Recycled PET packaging results in almost 80% fewer CO2 emissions than new material – significantly better than previously thought – according to research conducted on behalf of packaging company Alpla.
A study carried out by Denkstatt showed that Alpla’s recycled PET has a carbon footprint of 0.45kg equivalent per kilogram of product. By contrast, virgin PET carries a carbon footprint of 2.15kg of CO2 per kilogram of PET, meaning that recycled PET has a carbon footprint 79% lower than new material.
The findings are a significant boost for the packaging industry, which has worked hard to reduce its environmental footprint and increase the proportion of packaging in circulation made from recycled material. It comes little more than a week after Coca-Cola debuted a new advert in the UK to promote plastic recycling among its consumers.
According to Peter Fröschel – plant manager for Alpla’s wholly owned PET Recycling Team subsidiary in Wöllersdorf, Lower Austria – “the savings for a single kilogram of rPET are enough to power a 13w bulb continuously for 20 days in the Austrian power mix”.
“We are witnessing a clear trend towards PET packaging – and not just in summer, when the beverage industry enjoys a boom due to hot weather.” This makes it all the more important to collect used packaging and return recyclable materials to the production process. “Our recycling plants play a key role in this regard,” Fröschel said.
The carbon footprint of the recycled packaging was calculated in accordance with ISO 14044, and the calculation covers all phases of the recycling chain – from collection and sorting through to transportation, washing and processing. The analysis is based on the mass and energy balance – the electricity and gas consumption – for the Wöllersdorf recycling plant in Austria last year.
Alpla’s experience in recycling PET goes back several decades; the company operates recycling enterprises at three sites: a joint venture in Mexico, the wholly owned subsidiary in Wöllersdorf and a new recycling plant built in southern Poland in 2013. The annual capacity of these plants is around 65,000 tonnes of food-grade rPET.
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